“I would say the Russian Ministry of Defense statements are about as accurate as their air campaign,” Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, previously told reporters at a televised Pentagon briefing in November. The statements by Dillon were made after the Russian defense ministry posted screen shots of a video game as evidence of U.S. collusion with ISIS fighters.
However, the likelihood of any U.S. military cooperation with Russia in Iraq is low. “Our communication with the Russians, from a DoD standpoint, is limited to deconflicting our operations in Syria to prevent accidents,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson.
Russian and U.S. military officials use a communications channel on a daily basis to help deconflict ground operations and air space over a tightly congested battlefield. But, there has been no direct military cooperation between Russian and American forces in the region.
But today’s statement by a Russian military official does beg the question of Russian interest in western Iraq.
…officials cited a recent battle to recapture Bukamal, along the Syria-Iraq border, that included almost no Syrian government units.
The Trump administration believes that about 80 percent of the military manpower fighting in support of the Syrian government is made up of foreign forces from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
When government units undertake offensives against opposition forces, the official said, they must leave behind poorly trained and sparsely equipped troops to defend those reclaimed areas, making them vulnerable to militant attack.
That picture is sharply different from the one presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who assured Assad during a recent visit to Russia that the long Syrian conflict is “nearing completion.”
President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. They expressed their satisfaction with successful U.S.-Russia enhanced de-confliction efforts between U.S. and Russian military professionals that have dramatically accelerated ISIS’s losses on the battlefield in recent months.
The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both U.S. and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved…
The two presidents, today, welcomed the Memorandum of Principles concluded in Amman, Jordan, on November 8, 2017, between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. This Memorandum reinforces the success of the ceasefire initiative, to include the reduction, and ultimate elimination, of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the area to ensure a more sustainable peace. Monitoring this ceasefire arrangement will continue to take place through the Amman Monitoring Center, with participation by expert teams from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States.
Phony Virtue is Ruining Western Society
From Hollywood to our foreign policy, Rousseau’s joke is on us.
By WILLIAM S. SMITH • December 7, 2017
In Hollywood and other elite institutions, puffed-up paragons of “virtue” reign, but backstage are characters such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, people wholly lacking self-control, decency, moderation, temperance, and civility. In short, many of “the beautiful souls” who have been telling us how to live are reprobates–or protecting them, either tacitly or directly.
This is an astonishing exaggeration of Putin’s power. Russia’s actual influence efforts are troubling and deserve countering, but they do not explain away political discontent in the West, much less invalidate election results.Trump’s campaign was foolish to reach out to foreigners promising dirt. But the media manipulation attributed to Russia is small, and sometimes quite silly. The exaggerations of Putin’s ability to influence our political disagreements don’t just distort our debates; they strengthen Putin at home. His potential rivals loathe the way that the Western world makes him out to be a world-bestriding genius, a master of geopolitics. This reputation papers over his mixed record. The fact is Putin’s Russia suffers under sanctions. The American government is now in the habit of kicking out Russian diplomatic personnel and shutting down their facilities. Putin essentially lost the great game of influence over the neighboring government in Kiev and settled for an undignified scramble to collect the vitally important land around his nation’s naval base in Crimea. His government is often reduced to playing the role of petulant jerk, spoiling little diplomatic meetings with the U.S. president.
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
Senate passes spending bill, averting government shutdown Shortly after the House passed a two-week spending bill on Thursday, the Senate followed with a vote of 81-14, averting a government shutdown on Friday. The stopgap measure will keep the federal government open through Dec. 22. Republicans, who are trying to finish work on their tax bill, need the support of Democrats in order to put together a two-year budget deal that will pass. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday Democrats “will not leave here without a DACA fix,” meaning the budget must include deportation protection for undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children. Source: Politico
Muslims worldwide protest against Trump’s Jerusalem decision Muslims around the world took to the streets after midday prayers on Friday to protest President Trump’s decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. America’s decision is highly controversial, because Palestinians seek eastern Jerusalem as their future capital, and the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem comes across as taking Israel’s side. Protests were as widespread as Jordan and Indonesia, although the heart of the demonstrations was across the West Bank. “In several cities and towns, angry protesters hurled stones at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets,” The Associated Press reports. “Smoke rose over Bethlehem.” Militant groups like Hamas and al Qaeda have called for violence, and the State Department issued warnings to U.S. embassies around the world. Source: The Washington Post
Thursday, Dec 7, 2017
The Czech Republic recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “in practice”. (Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expresses interest in moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Haaretz)
The President of Turkey embarks on a two-day state visit of Greece. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s démarche is a first in 65 years. (The Guardian)
Peoples’ Democratic Party’s co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş remains behind bars until the next hearing, scheduled for February 14, 2018. He risks 142 years in prison. (Turkey Purge)
In a 491-page ruling, a court indicts former President of Argentina Cristina Fernández for treason and orders for her arrest for “trying to cover up Iran’s possible role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people”. Former foreign affairs minister Héctor Timerman is also concerned. Both have previously denied wrongdoing. (Reuters)
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło resigns just hours after surviving an opposition no-confidence motion. She will be replaced by Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, according to the ruling Law and Justice party. (BBC)
Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017
President Vladimir Putin announces his participation in the 2018 presidential election. (The Western Journal)
President Vladimir Putin declares victory over the Islamic State terror group across both banks of the river Euphrates. (TASS)
Police raid the wrong tent of an activist camp in Kiev and fail to arrest the stateless opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili. A police source says police are preparing a special operation and will be unleashed “in the near future”. (The Daily Star)
The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is brought to reply to an online petition signed by thousands of people. The museum refuses to stop displaying a Balthus painting, Thérèse rêvant. (The Telegraph) (Le Nouvel Obs)
The “Silence Breakers”, including those involved in the #MeToo movement, are named Time Magazine’s 2017 Time Person of the Year. (Time)
President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas says the move undermines the U.S. position as a peace mediator while the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas says that the decision would “open the gates of hell on U.S. interests in the region.” (BBC)
Pope Francis urges respect for the status quo for Jerusalem and calls for “wisdom and prudence” to avoid further conflict. (ABC News)
A French court does not order the custody of Suleyman Kerimov but sets a €40 million bail and tighter controls. Kerimov was arrested on November 21 in a money laundering and tax fraud case. (TASS)
The Lebanese cautiously welcome a political agreement that enables Prime Minister Saad Hariri to officially withdraw his unexpected November 4 resignation. (The Daily Star)
A study published in Nature and the Astrophysical Journal Letters describes the discovery of the most distant supermassive black hole ever, around 13.1 billion light years away. (The Verge)
More Below The Fold